Verizon to Lock Down Phones for Limited Time to 'Combat Theft'

FCC commish gobbles Verizon's phone-locking BS, says it tastes great

According to Verizon, the decision to stop selling unlocked smartphones will deter thieves from targeting the devices while on their way to stores or right after the devices are purchased by customers.

Verizon says that the company will be returning to locking down its smartphones, something the company says is essential to combat smartphone theft. It will then lock new smartphones to its network for an unspecified time before allowing customers to unlock them. They will have to contact Verizon and hope the carrier will make an exception.

CNET notes that every other major carrier requires that a customer who finance their smartphone through their respective network must pay off the balance and go through a wait period of at least 40 days in the case of T-Mobile and as long as 75 days or more on AT&T with 60 of those days on active service. Plus, Verizon feels that criminals will be discouraged to target its locked phones, for they will have a hard time reselling the devices on the black market or overseas. This will likely only inconvenience people who plan to travel internationally and use foreign SIM cards soon after buying the phone. In spring, once the waiting period is in effect, the unlock will happen either manually or automatically after a yet-to-be-specified period of time.

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Verizon must be dealing with a lot of theft if it is finally changing its unlocking policy. The news site says that there will be "little immediate impact" for customers because the phones will be "unlocked immediately through a software update". They also added that they'll unlock phones even if they aren't paid off.

Hopefully, Verizon will adopt T-Mobile's policy on temporarily unlocking devices for travelers, as a large part of its customer base must be with Verizon for the ease of worldwide traveling. According to CNET, Verizon will make a step forward to combating phone theft problems.

As the publication noted, most USA carriers do keep their phones locked to their service for a period of time. One way to get around high worldwide fees from USA carriers is to buy a pre-paid SIM card from the country you're visiting and pay domestic rates for service during your trip.

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